Katrina Leaves Houma Tribe Devastated
Contact: Brenda Dardar Robichaux,
Jay Winter Nightwolf,
WPFW Radio, Washington, D. C.
September 12, 2005
“When The Eye Of Hurricane Katrina Struck,
What Did She Leave Behind?”
Re: The United Houma Nation of Louisiana
A Non-Federally Recognized American Indian Tribe
Left Devastated and Destitute
When Hurricane Katrina struck Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana two weeks ago, she left behind death, property destruction and people psychologically shattered, hungry, injured and homeless. This nation has never seen a natural disaster of this magnitude before. The U. S. government mounted an inadequate response in its attempt to relieve the human suffering of those affected.
Displaced people have been scattered across the country and do not know what tomorrow may bring for them and their love ones. They don’t even how they will get back home. In the aftermath of public outcries and anger, the director of FEMA has resigned.
Amidst this backdrop, the United Houma Nation is in serious danger of suffering one of the worst indignities of all – being forgotten. Located in the swamps, way out in the bayou, 75 miles south of the Big Easy, the Houma have suffered great losses.
Property damage on the Houma Indian settlements is estimated to be about 5 plus million dollars. Worse than the property damage is the human toll the hurricane has had on this tribe. The Houmas were 15,000 members strong before the storm. They cannot account for half of 3400 members in one of its communities. 1,000 members who lived within the city limits of New Orleans proper are at present also unaccounted for.
The Houmas are a traditional people who live simple lives in their Native communities. The native Houma language is still spoken amongst the members. For some elders, this is the only language they speak. This has made locating the scattered elders difficult. The tribe was overjoyed to locate one of it’s elders in a shelter in Texas, however they continue to worry about the others.
While aid and clean-up crews pour in to the cities of New Orleans, Gulfport and Biloxi, the Native Americans of the Houma nation, like other poorer locales, wait for the first sign of humanitarian aid. Not a single relief organization has contacted the tribe. With the exception of other tribes and Native organizations such as the Congress of the American Indian and National Relief Charities, the Houmas are still waiting.
So far none of the federal relief agencies has even contacted the tribe. They are in dire need of life’s most basic necessities: water, food, baby formula, diapers, medical supplies and anything else that can help them survive. Some of the hardest hit communities still has no electricity and need generators to provide immediate relief from the heat to the elders of those communities.
Vice Principal Chief of the Houma Nation, Michael Dardar reports “Murphy Oil Refinery in St. Bernard Parish had a storage tank rupture which produced a major oil spill in one of the communities of the Houma Nation thus rendering human habitation impossible.” According to Dardar that piece of land may not ever fit for human habitation.
Principal Chief Brenda Dardar requests prayers for her people and strength to continue.
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